MONTREAL (Reuters) – Crossing the U.S.-Canada border to go to church on a Sunday cost a U.S. citizen $10,000 for breaching Washington’s tough new security rules. The expensive trip to church was a surprise for Richard Albert, a resident of rural Maine who lives so close to the Canadian border the U.S. customs office is right next door to his house.

Like the other half-dozen residents of Township 15 Range 15, crossing the border is a daily ritual for Albert. The nearby Quebec village of St. Pamphile is where they shop, eat and pray.

There are many such situations in rural areas along the largely unguarded 8,900-km (5,530-mile) border between Canada and the United States — which in some cases actually runs down the middle of streets or through buildings.

As a result, Albert says did not expect any problems three weeks ago when he returned home to the United States after attending mass in Canada, as usual.

The local U.S. customs station is closed on Sundays, so he just drove around the locked gate, as he had done every weekend since the gate appeared last May, following a tightening of border security.

Two days later, Albert was summoned to the customs office, where an officer told him he had been caught on camera crossing the border illegally.

Ottawa has granted special passes to some 300 U.S. citizens in that region so they can enter the country when Canadian customs posts are closed, but the United States canceled a similar program last May.

That forces local residents to make a 200-mile detour along treacherous logging roads to get home via the nearest staffed border checkpoint.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection would not comment specifically on Albert’s case because of privacy laws.

“Since 9/11, we’ve enhanced our security and, yes, some of the situations require inconvenience to people, so we have to go along with what the regulations are,” said Janet Rapaport, a public affairs officer with the bureau. She added that local residents had been told about the stricter controls.

Albert has appealed the fine, but he has not attended a Sunday mass since.

“I feel like I’m living in a jail,” he said.